Sunday March 17, 2013 | Steve Wiens
3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
We often define ourselves according to what we have to offer this world. But what happens when what we have to offer isn’t enough? In this sermon, Steve Wiens shows us how our wounds and inability to offer something can actually be used by God in glorious ways.
In America, what we have to offer is our value. So, when we sit down for a job interview, one of the questions that we have to answer is “What do you have to offer?” And we often describe ourselves according to what we do. When someone asks us about our life, we often list our job, experiences, and hobbies as our life. But what happens when we have nothing left to give or what happens when we realize that what we have to give can’t solve a problem?
In the story, Peter and John offer a broken man not what they have but what God had given them. The broken beggar spent everyday in front of the temple begging for food or money. This was how this man survived. He had nothing to offer anyone. And Peter and John had no money to offer this man either. But they did have something greater than money to offer this man. They told him, in the name of Jesus, to get up and walk. They healed the man.
When we are emptied of the things that we have to offer, then we begin to be filled by what God has to offer. So much of our lives are spent running around and trying to be useful. We gain skills and try to make the mark of being successful. And the Church functions in a similar way. We try to provide for everyone that is in need and bring healing and comfort to all. We start programs and ministries to accomplish these things. And that’s good, as long as we are depending on God to fill us with what he has to offer instead of trying to accomplish these things on our own.
In the Naked Anabaptist book, Stuart Murray says that when the Christendom model is finished that it is actually a gift to the Church. The fusion of Church and State that has been happening since the 4th century has granted the Church some unique benefits. It has allowed the Church to control the population through force. It has allowed the Church to have a membership that looks like a State more than a group of committed believers. It has also distracted the Church from fulfilling its mission. Stuart Murray thinks that when the Church and State are finally separated, it will be a good thing for the Church.
Jesus was a wounded healer, and we are called to be wounded healers as well. When we are able to do and accomplish everything through our own power, we don’t investigate and look into our own wounds. When our woundedness and God’s fullness come together, that is when we begin to do great things in the Kingdom.
God is a God who gives abundantly and recklessly. The psalms and everything that we learn about God is that he has and continues to give recklessly to his people. He fed and clothed his people 40 years in the desert. He provided protection when they were a nation. He sent them his only son to die for them. And he continues to work in our lives today, giving us everything we need to do the work of the Kingdom.
The Anabaptists believe that we are called to look like Jesus. A wounded healer, a God who gives abundantly. This is not an easy task, because it asks us to look inside of ourselves and seek out our own woundedness and iniquity. But, if we are able to do this and trust in God’s abundant giving, we will begin to see God acting through our wounds to do amazing things.